Ellis George Cipollone O’Brien Annaguey LLP (EGC) secured a major victory last week in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, as a federal jury deadlocked and reached no verdict against its client, retired Rear Admiral Bruce Loveless. The jury convicted four other Navy officers on all counts after four months of trial and nearly three weeks of deliberations.
EGC partners Thomas P. O’Brien and Ivy A. Wang tried the case alongside a Paul Hastings LLP team led by partner Daniel Prince. EGC’s successful defense of Admiral Loveless follows O’Brien and Wang’s December 2021 acquittal of Dr. Mirali Zarrabi on all counts after a three-month federal trial regarding a $355 million insurance fraud scheme in the 1-800-GET-THIN Lap-Band surgery business.
“We are pleased and grateful that after reviewing all of the evidence, the jury declined to convict Admiral Loveless,” said O’Brien, lead counsel and former U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California.
The trial spanned four months, which was one of the longest federal criminal cases in district history. The trial included an extraordinary three-day hearing over allegations that federal prosecutors had illegally withheld exculpatory information from defense lawyers and attempted to bribe a witness to testify. The court has not yet ruled on the defense motions for a mistrial based on the alleged prosecutorial misconduct.
Federal prosecutors argued at trial that Singapore-based military contractor Leonard Glenn Francis, known as “Fat Leonard,” showered gifts of fancy meals, hotel rooms and other perks on Navy officers from 2006 through 2013. Although the government claimed that most of the officers provided ship schedules for the Navy’s Seventh Fleet and tried to steer Navy ships to ports around Southeast Asia controlled by Francis and his company, Glenn Defense Marin Asia, Admiral Loveless was not alleged to have performed any acts for Francis’s benefit in return for the gifts. Instead, the government tried to make the case that Admiral Loveless, a Naval Intelligence Officer, violated his duties by failing to report the other officers’ improper receipt of gifts from Francis to the Navy.
In a plea deal, Francis admitted to defrauding the Navy out of at least $35 million by gouging the Navy on services like fuel, supplies, sewage disposal, security and shore transportation but did not testify at trial.
O’Brien previously led the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California from 2007 to 2009, after being appointed by President George W. Bush. Wang, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney, is a veteran of fraud trials and a recipient of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys Director’s Award. Wang left the U.S. Attorney’s office to join EGC in 2018.
Additional coverage of the case is available on CBS8.
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